Chinese President Xi Jinping has congratulated President Mugabe on his 92nd birthday, wishing him good health. President Mugabe turned 92 on Sunday, and official celebrations to mark his birthday will be held under the auspices of the 21st February Movement in Masvingo on Saturday.
“I wish to extend my warm congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of your birthday,” said President Xi, who visited Zimbabwe last year on a State Visit where he, together with President Mugabe, witnessed the signing of mega deals between Zimbabwe and China.
“In December last year, I paid a State Visit to your country, enjoyed your warm reception and mapped out a grand blueprint for the future development of China-Zimbabwe relations with you.
“We, together, attended the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. Your splendid speech at the Summit and your penetrating insights into the development of China-Africa relations made profound impression on me.”
President Xi said he was ready to work with President Mugabe to deepen political mutual trust and bilateral practical cooperation and “together start a new chapter for China-Zimbabwe and China-Africa friendship”.
“I wish you good health and may everything go well with you,” said President Xi.
Pakistan ambassador Mr Asaf Khan also sent his congragulatory message, praising President Mugabe for his good leadership qualities. “He is an icon, a legend,” he told ZBC News. “He is a Statesman with good leadership qualities for the nation and Africa. His endeavour is to raise the standards of Africa.”
Congratulatory messages for President Mugabe started pouring in on Sunday, with various Government departments and State enterprises wishing him happiness, good health and more strength.
Elders from Zvimba, his home area, congratulated him saying living that long could only be through the love and will of God.
Gogo Agatha Nyere, who is younger sister to President Mugabe’s late mother, Mbuya Bona, vividly narrated to ZBC News how he grew up from a young rural boy in Kutama to become the President.
Gogo Cecillia Mupariwa Zindoga, a neighbour at Cde Mugabe’s rural home, said the whole of Kutama neighbourhood felt blessed by the gift of long life bestowed on the President, as he is “a man of the people”. An uncle to President Mugabe, Mr Philemon Kutama, said he worked hard and suffered to lead Zimbabwe and Africa.
“It was during our boyhood that he developed an avid culture of reading,” he said.
“As the youngest of the herd boys of that time, I had to assume the duties of monitoring the movement of cattle as the elder, Robert (Mugabe), buried his face into books.”
Mr Kutama said President Mugabe’s rise from just a herd boy to become President was not achieved overnight, but followed a difficult road punctuated with prison, suffering, hunger and tears.
President Mugabe’s love for books did not end during his time as a boy, as he went on to become a teacher, before acquiring a degree from Fort Hare University in South Africa. He also taught in Ghana before returning home to participate in full time politics.
During his time in prison between 1964 and 1975, President Mugabe also studied and acquired many degrees.